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Original Parthenon Sculptures Should be Returned to Greece: Argumentative Essay

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The thought that great historical monuments should be preserved has its roots in the preservation of the history and beauty expressed by the monuments, but the underlying reasons are often overlooked. In “The Lovely Stones,” writer Christopher Hitchens puts forth a detailed argument that the original Parthenon sculptures should be returned to Greece. Doing so, he employs a variety of rhetorical devices, including enumeration of historical facts, hypothetical situations and examples, and wordplay.

Hitchens’s deft use of enumeration begins with his discussion of the history behind the Parthenon. Hitchens claims that, despite its stunning beauty, Parthenon also bears experience of damage and abuse over history. Parthenon was indeed “closed and desolated” five centuries after the birth of Christianity and used for centuries “as a garrison and an arsenal” by Turkish forces. Even “a powder magazine was detonated” and gave Parthenon a huge damage. This enumeration of tragic occurrences to the Parthenon evokes some sort of loss in the reader and compels the reader to give more sympathy and interest in the structure. The enumeration also serves as a contrast to “the beauty and symmetry” of the Parthenon. This contrast of damage and beauty suggestively implies that Parthenon is a monument to which preservation efforts have need to be taken and to which further damage must be prevented. After all, Hitchens’s enumeration of tragic occurrences to the Parthenon draws the reader’s attention and effectively introduces the topic. Even though Hitchens’s use of enumeration may come off as overly dramatic for readers it effectively sets up for Hitchens argument.

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As persuasive as Hitchens’s use of enumeration is his use of hypothetical situations with examples. During a discussion about the legitimacy of the British museum’s deal regarding the Parthenon, Hitchens establishes a hypothetical situation: “If the Mona Lisa had been sawed in two during the Napoleonic Wars and the separated halves had been acquired by different museums … not be a general wish to see what they might look like if reunited?” Reading this hypothetical situation, the reader is likely driven to an imagination regarding an artwork as famous and invaluable as the Mona Lisa. With a reference to Mona Lisa and a rhetorical question, Hitchens familiarizes the issue of Parthenon to the reader and strongly urges the reader to nod in agreement with what he has to say about the legitimacy of the British Museum’s deal. Hitchens goes as far as to provide an example of the sculpture of Iris whose body is at present in London and head is at present in Athens. This example ground the previous hypothetical situation in reality so that even skeptical readers would think about the legitimacy of the British Museum’s deal again. Hence, without the hypothetical situation and example, Hitchens’s message would lose the reader’s agreement.

Lastly, Hitchens bolsters his argument by employing clever wordplay. In the very beginning of his article, Hitchens quotes the great classicist A.W. Lawrence, who claims that the Parthenon “may be assessed as absolutely right.” The word “right” immediately leaves curiosity in the reader, for the word barely makes sense without any context given at the beginning of the article. Then at the very end of the article, Hitchens remarks, “and one day, surely, there will be an agreement to do the right thing by the world’s most ‘right’ structure.” This appearance of the same word “right” at the beginning and the end of the article creates an effective wordplay. Indeed, Lawrence’s word is used in the very last sentence to suggest a hope that justice, and righteousness, will solve the issue of the Parthenon eventually. Because Hitchens has made claims the reader is strongly persuaded by his claims and called to take action towards monuments

In summary, Christopher Hitchens using enumeration, hypothetical situations and examples, and wordplay makes the case that the original Parthenon structure must be returned to Greece. It is his use of persuasive elements that not only inform the reader of the problem but also spur the reader into action.

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Original Parthenon Sculptures Should be Returned to Greece: Argumentative Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from
“Original Parthenon Sculptures Should be Returned to Greece: Argumentative Essay.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
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